Australia and indeed the World are increasingly threatened by massive investment in coal seam gas (CSG). CSG expansion has drawn vehement opposition in Australia from urban environmentalists and also from farmers opposed to despoiling of prime agricultural land and potential pollution of aquifer resources. Now the Australian National University (ANU) has disinvested in coal seam gas (CSG) development after student opposition to such investment (see “ANU removes itself from coal seam gas operations”).
Key quotes from report: “The Australian National University will sell its shares in Metgasco, a company involved in coal seam gas extraction in Northern NSW, following student opposition to the investment… The ANU currently holds a 1% share in Metgasco, worth around $1 million, making it the 12th largest shareholder. The ANU’s total investment portfolio is valued at over $1 billion. Students from the Collective say they discovered the investment in Metgasco’s annual report. They were spurred on by contact from several people in areas affected by Metgasco operations, who urged a push for divestment. The students launched their campaign by installing a ‘gas rig’ made out of milk crates in Union Court on campus and starting a petition.”
I made the following science-informed comment on Woroni:
“Great news! The students are correct – gas is dirty and can be dirtier than coal greenhouse gas (GHG)-wise. Most of natural gas is methane (CH4) which leaks (at 3.3% US average or up to 7.9% from fracking) and is 105 times worse than carbon dioxide (CO2) as a greenhouse gas (GHG) on a 20 year time frame and with aerosol impacts included. In Victoria [a major Australian state] burning gas for power is half as dirty GHG-wise as burning coal but at 3.3% systemic leakage it is 1.2 times as dirty as Hazelwood (Victoria’s dirtiest coal-fired power plant) and at 7.9% leakage it is 2.1 times as dirty as Hazelwood (see this)”.
In 2009 the WBGU (that advises the German Government on climate change) estimated that for a 75% chance of avoiding a disastrous 2 degree Centigrade temperature rise (would you board a plane if there were a 25% chance of it crashing?) the World must emit no more than 600 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) between 2010 and zero emissions in 2050. Australia as a world leading annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) polluter has ALREADY used up its “fair share” of this terminal GHG pollution budget and is now stealing the entitlement of other countries, including impoverished, climate change-threatened countries such as Somalia, Bangladesh and Kiribati (see “Shocking analysis by country of years left to zero emissions”).
Australia should be stopping gas and coal extraction and not opening up new mines for more carbon pollution.
Congratulations to the student activists! I worked at ANU as a Queen Elizabeth II Research Fellow 40 years ago and so am doubly pleased with the ANU action. Disinvestment represents a significant means of cutting greenhouse gas pollution and anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Pro-environment students, activists and investors around the world should follow the example of the ANU students and ANU management.
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